Journal article

Perspectives on capacity building to guide policy and program development and delivery

Community participation Australia

This paper examines the perspectives of major interest groups on capacity development within the context of the significant contemporary global phenomenon of community-based decentralised governance at catchment scale. It focuses on providing empirical evidence to guide the development and implementation of policies and programs, especially those of governments. The research draws especially from regional governance experiences in Australia, as a country with advanced arrangements, and capacity building experiences in the sectors of health and risk and emergency management as informative arenas of learning. Twenty-two specific capacity building measures were presented in a discussion paper across human, social, institutional and economic dimensions. Perspectives were sought from regional, policy/research and Indigenous interest groups about applying these measures to enhance the effectiveness of the community-based Boards governing Australia's nation-wide network of 56 natural resource management (NRM) organisations. The research identifies a suite of specific measures and, in doing so, demonstrates the benefits of examining other sectors to inform capacity building in the NRM domain. The work highlights the need to better understand and account for differing interest group perspectives about capacity building issues, the application of specific measures, and the outcomes anticipated before developing and implementing policies and programs. While explored in the Australian context, these findings have application to decentralised governance arrangements in other countries.

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